Though dealing with shortfalls and underperforming, a lack of energy or assets, or shortcomings consumes a lot of our attention on scarcity. Our true challenge is dealing with abundance! We cannot embrace God’s unexpected, outrageous abundance. (Think about that.) Our 305-year “young” mission is to represent God’s abundance. But too often, we are overwhelmed with scarcity, just like Peter and James and John do in this week’s message from Luke 5:1-11. Its the problem of too much. God does so much. So much love, so much forgiveness, goes overboard on mercy, unending compassion, amazing and abundant grace and goodness. Our “problem” is being afraid to let go of the scarcity life and instead embrace the abundant life of God’s love offered to us.
Experience the amazement as the disciples’ fish nets were filled to overflowing in this energizing message of God’s overboard love.It’s time for the church to “Go Overboard.” To go overboard in love. To go overboard in trust. To go overboard in compassion. To go overboard in mercy. To go overboard in neighborliness.
How will you go overboard with God’s abundance this week?
How big is God’s love? Some people have used pretty big words to describe God’s big love, like supererogation. Can you repeat that?! Supererogation is so much love, it is extravagant. Amazing. Overwhelming and super abundant. Because God’s love is beyond measure. In the Bible, God’s love letter to us, Jesus-follower, the Apostle Paul, tried to describe God’s love when he wrote, “And I ask God that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-10). That’s a whole lotta love!
God’s overboard love is like Skittles. Pouring a bag of Skittles, it overflows, more and more. God’s love won’t stop! Goes everywhere. Can’t be stopped. It goes on, and on, and on!
Remember that God’s love is available to you. It will never run out. You can count on God being with you always. God’s love is for ever, and its for you!
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
God has given each of us a charter. Do you know what your charter is? This week, we will discover how to say “yes” not just to life—that’s the chart—but to our life mission, our life’s charter.
The chart, the path must adapt to changing opportunities and challenges.
How many stars are on this flag? No, not 50! That’s right, 48, before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states. Many of you were alive to witness the change. And it was not unanimous! Imagine hearing, ”48 is a perfect number.” “Why change something that’s not broken.” Yet, we opened our arms and extended our boarders. We courageously embraced 50. (And our friends in Puerto Rico think 51 is a nice improvement!
Our church’s chart has changed over time, but its chart, its core mission to be a blessing in this community empowers us to transform. The God-given charter brings us great adventures and excitements and joys that are beyond our imagining. And our charter will leave behind a legacy which will impact future generations in ways that we will never fully see or appreciate. Its our mission from God!
I was in Las Vegas last week. Wow. I traveled with Melissa whose health care company is making a difference in the health of individuals. She and her team are accomplishing amazing work.
What did I observe? In Las Vegas, they address their community “problems” by sweeping them off the street. Literally. Very little collaboration! The politicians, well, they may do what they can, but the casino’s pretty much control the life, and while there are many enjoyable fun entertaining and positive outcomes (you know, like Atlantic City?!) the too many families and individuals feel trapped and powerless to make a difference. Tens of thousands homeless, underemployed, forgotten older people; and kids who are trafficked and exploited. While it’s easy to attribute blame to behaviors like greed, immoral choices, and upside down life priorities, where is the church and the promise of the abundant life in Christ? In Las Vegas there appears to be no collaboration of hope with thoughtful leaders from education, law enforcement, courts, politicians, and the faith community. Who are working together to change their chart, their course, to benefit all the citizens and visitors to that city?
Here in Cape May, we struggle too. There are cycles of abuse, fear, the opioid epidemic is called an epidemic because it’s is out of control! Individuals do what they can. Politicians do what they can, law enforcement, educators, business and commerce do what they can. So do many churches. We participate, as well.
But who is leading a collaboration of good thoughtful leadership that wants to do more than bandaging symptoms, and get at the underlying causes of these undesired and unpleasant life outcomes of hopelessness, despair, fear, and anxiety. Our health and wellness of mind body and spirit are outcomes of choices that are made. This is true for churches. This is true for communities.
Remember, it just takes one spark to get a fire going.
We said Yes to life! (As we observed on Sanctity of Life Sunday a few weeks ago.)
Today, let’s say “yes” not just to life—that’s the chart—but to our life mission, what we are called to do, that’s our charter?
Our church has a charter, too. The God-given charter bring us great adventures and excitements and joys that are beyond our imagining.
We have a chart of decisions and ministries to engage with in 2019! Let’s not be satisfied with what was or overwhelmed with what is, but consider what we will do to lead Cape May towards a better future and Good News.. Our legacy will impact future generations in amazing ways. Its our mission from God!
Do you have your birth certificate with you? Well, ask you caregiver if you can have a copy. Take a look. It tells you who you are! (In case you forgot!) The birth certificate is a document that verifies your place in the world as a human being created in God’s image. What you do each day is up to you (and your parents, too, for a while!). You are amazing. In the image of God, to do amazing things. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:28). You have a special place in God’s plan. That’s why we pray, worship, hang out with people who love, respect, and inspire us to do great things for others. Let’s look forward to enjoy God’s presence as we follow Jesus, read God’s word, pray, and listen to the Spirit each day. Thank you for making our day special by being here! Your birth certificate is just the beginning, because you are on a mission from God!
Whether you enjoy or avoid Valentine’s Day, we all have one inescapable need: to feel loved. Love is a core value of Cold Spring Church. God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. “For God loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16-17). We seek to, “love one another with mutual affection…” and to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). We want to belong to something meaningful and feel cared for. Each of us can fulfill our life’s mission of love that God has given us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10). God wants us to show that love to others every day of the year.
“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (That is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:8b-13).
For many, special days like Valentine’s Day only reinforces that we either feel loved, or it reminds us that we feel unloved. While all of us are unlovable from time to time, all of us can count on God “lavishing his love on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
You are loved! All of us (and I mean all of us, including me!) struggle to consistently and authentically have a heart for everyone. Always listen and show respect to others. Jesus’ love for the world shows us that we will have heart-to-heart contact with neighbors we might not agree with, with people we may not like, or even fear. Our neighbors, young and old, deserve to experience the love of God. And Cold Spring Church continues to deliver spiritual resources to our neighbors. As Presbyterians, we are positively influenced by the great 16th Century Reformers like John Calvin. Our faith affects our entire being. Our Transformation Journey engages both our mind and heart.
To “have a heart” as a follower of Jesus, however, is not easy. It is not automatic. On our Transformation Journey, we want to thoughtfully reflect on our ministry as we move forward. How do we do that? One way is to remind each other to test all we do by asking ourselves:
“Does this idea show I have a heart?,”
“How does our project/ministry show the love of God?,”
“In what ways did our service/event/activity show God’s love?,”
“How could I improve and better show God’s love next time?”
The Apostle Paul reminded the community of faith in Rome:
“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).”
As we embrace a We Have a Heart spirit this year, we will better reflect and demonstrate the love of God in greater Cape May because… (say it with me!):